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210830 August 30, 2021


Reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    This week we continue with some more details about early Huntsville by sharing some more information from "A Baby Boomer's Guide to Growing Up in The Rocket City." (The book is available on Amazon.)

    Before we started to school, most of the things we did in life were centered on activities with our families.  Since there are so many variables to what each of us did, based upon conditions such as the part of town in which we lived, the makeup of our families, and our families’ social status, I could never do justice to covering that period of time. So I won’t even try.

    However, entering school was a shared common event and brought most of us together into the largest groups to which we had ever belonged. These groups centered the actions in our lives on new locations. We also added new identities to our short resumes - students. In Huntsville, most of us started school at the age of six. Very few of us attended kindergarten or pre-school, and I personally knew no one who had. All over the Rocket City, come September of 1952 the first of the Baby Boomers started our 12-year (if we passed all grades) journey through the school system. Though we were spread out across the town, most of us experienced similar activities no matter which school we attended.

    In one of the early parts of the three R’s, the reading part, we learned and practiced our skills with the comic strips in the newspaper. It was interesting to go back to a 1953 newspaper and see the characters which we followed each day. They were: Gasoline Alley, The Cisco Kid, Buz Sawyer, Nancy, Moon Mullins, Joe Jinks, Dick Tracy, Blondie, Joe Palooka, Dixie Dugan, Winnie Winkle, Terry and the Pirates, and Little Orphan Annie. Like our older relatives of those days, very few of our early literature friends are still around.

    The Huntsville City Directory of 1952 reported that Huntsville had five elementary schools, one junior high school, and two senior high schools. This was the state of the school system into which we were becoming citizens.

    Sometime in 1952 the name of West Huntsville High School goes away, and we see S. R. Butler High School instead, apparently a consolidation of the two schools. 

    The 1953 edition of the directory lists the following public schools: 

Butler High School 
Councill School ©
Councill High School©
East Clinton School
Farley Junior High School
Fifth Avenue School
Huntsville High School
Huntsville Junior High
Joe Bradley School
Lincoln Junior High School
Rison High School
West Clinton School
West Huntsville School
West Huntsville Junior High School ©
Winston Street School ©
© is used throughout the directory to denote that the establishments are for Colored.

    Three years later, in looking at the information contained in the 1955 Huntsville Sesquicentennial Commemorative Album, the school system which we attended was described as follows:

    In 1927 two new brick schools were completed, a white high school on Randolph Street and a Negro school now known as Councill High. At this time the West Clinton building became an elementary school to serve the needs of that area of the city. The Wills Taylor building on Eustis Street was purchased in 1929 to house part of the Junior High School grades, and in 1938 the old East Clinton School was replaced by the present structure. In that same year a Negro elementary school was built on Washington Street.

    The Fifth Avenue Elementary School was constructed in 1944 to take care of the city’s expansions to the south.  Since 1948 additions have been made to Fifth Avenue and East Clinton Street schools, a new elementary school has been completed in the Terry Heights area, and at present another building is being constructed in the Blossomwood section. On August 22, 1954, a new Senior High School building located on Billie Watkins Avenue was dedicated. The old high school, with a recent two-story addition, became a three-year Junior High School.

    In 1955 the residents of the Rison section voted to enter the corporate limits of the City of Huntsville. As a result of this annexation and agreement between the City and County Boards of Education the city will operate the nine grade school at Rison beginning with the 1955-56 term.

    In 1951 a modern annex was added to Councill High School for Negros and a second addition is now in the process of being completed. Also in 1951, a lunchroom and new classrooms were added to the Winston Street Elementary School to make it a more complete unit.

    Today, the 5,165 children enrolled in the public schools of Huntsville are being taught by 168 teachers.

 It's Your Turn Now

Early School Experiences

        Memphis, TN - I guess we will soon see what kind of impact the new football season will have on the COVID-19 pandemic. As if that was not enough of a problem, our prayers go out to our classmates which will be impacted by the hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast.

        I've given you another chance to participate in sharing your own stories in Lee's Traveller.  If you had any unique experiences in your early school years we would love to hear them.

        Also remember, next week I will be forced to use the new program to create this page, so we will see how things go then.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Looking for Mike

Skip Cook

LHS '64

I decided to go through my "old stuff" and get rid of things that were no longer necessary.  I came across a 1959-60 school photo of Mike Chisam (sp?).  Would like to send it to him but don't have an address.  Can you help?  Thanks.




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